You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a designer look in your home; you just have to be clever about where you spend your money.
Firstly, you need to strip your home back to its bare bones. It’s much easier to see the potential of a room with a blank canvas, especially if you have lived in your home for some time and need to see the room through fresh eyes. You can gain an entirely new perspective on your home when it is uncluttered and you should see your home in a whole new light.
Here’s what comes next…
Pick one or two showstoppers
It’s true you don’t have to spend a lot of money on every piece in the room, but you should consider investing in one or two items. If everything is cheap, then quite frankly everything is going to look cheap.
The showstopper doesn’t have to be a piece of furniture – it would be equally effective to have an upscale Italian light fitting in the middle of your room as a dramatic piece of furniture.
Opt for decorative moldings and architectural hardware
Adding paneling to sections of a wall, usually the lower area, or adding crown moldings to ceilings or walls, will give your space a designer look. Paint them a contrasting color for the most striking effect. You can get easy-to-apply moldings for mass-produced furniture from inexpensive chain stores. When painted they may be transformed into an unrecognizable design piece.
New knobs and handles on cupboards and drawers in kitchens, bathrooms and even on bedroom furniture can be just the update your existing items need. Go for glass or colored knobs, or contemporary silver for a more modern look.
Similarly, new light switches will give your home a designer edge.
Paint is like a magic wand that instantly transforms interiors from dull to dazzling, from old fashioned to ‘oh wow!’
With advances in technology, paint is manufactured now that can be applied to most surfaces including tiles, cupboards such as kitchen cupboards. They will all take on new life with paint.
Rather than opting for the safer neutral look, don’t be afraid to try color and different finishes – glossy trims and ceiling paint can make a room instantly feel special.
Using lacquer paint on a vintage piece of furniture can make it instantly chic and designer-like. The glossy finish will transform the item, making it feel unique and brand new.
Choose window treatments carefully
One of the quickest ways to update a room is to change the window treatment. Heavy, dated, and old curtains that have collected dust for years can be removed and replaced with more modern shutters or blinds that will allow more light into the room and look far more fashionable.
Wide slat blinds or French-style shutters are one of the most stylish and contemporary window treatment options. These are now available in ready-made sizes that will fit most standard windows. You will need to be handy with a drill to fit them, but once up, they instantly add a modern feel, and will also allow you to adjust the amount of light entering the room.
If your budget allows, it’s worth getting a professional in to advise you on the various options for window treatments. The window frame and hanging options – the type of blind or curtain itself – will make a huge difference to the look of your room.
Invest in cushions
Decorative and practical accessories such as throw/scatter cushions are a great way to introduce pattern or color into your interior without spending a fortune. They are fun, and will provide an instant wow factor. The marketplace is full of retailers offering the latest trends in fabrics, textures and colors, so changing your cushions is one
of the easiest and most affordable ways to update the look of your living room or bedroom. They also don’t require any work such as hammering or drilling, which is very appealing to most home renovators!
Mix the sizes and shapes of your cushions for the most stylish look. Don’t overdo it though. You don’t want a sofa that is so full of cushions that you have to perch on the edge.
There are a few general rules of thumb for cushion placement. For a generous two seater sofa, place an oversized cushion (say 60 cm square) at each end, and then have an additional smaller rectangular cushion (40 x 20 cm) at one end.
The larger cushions could be the same fabric, with the smaller one a complementary pattern and shade. If they are all the same you’re at risk of a dreary sofa. This placement relies on the principles of balance and harmony.
Pay attention to light fittings
Lighting is so important in a home as it helps to set the mood and tone. Dated and old fashioned light fittings are a giveaway of the age of your home. Major hardware stores or lighting warehouses sell affordable, contemporary lighting that will create a modern feel in an instant.
To get a designer look, be daring and go for a dramatic metallic finish in your lighting, or an embellished piece such as a chandelier.
Lamps usually look best if they are oversized and have a striking base. If the base is a strong shape, go for a simple, chic shade, and vice versa.
Using lights to highlight artworks or décor will also give your home a designer feel as they are reminiscent of being in an upmarket gallery. You’ll read more about lighting in Chapter 6.
Have fun with accessories and embellishments
One thing that most professionally designed homes will have is an attention to detail through embellishments such as piping, fringes, or edging on upholstery, pelmets on window frames, and decorative accents thoughtfully placed around the room to tell a story and bring the room to life.
Think about adding a contrasting edge to your lampshades or curtains, or a distinctive piped border to your sofa to get a stylish look.
Invest in good quality fabrics
Not unlike clothing, cheap interior soft furnishings are an obvious sign that you haven’t spent much on your décor. You can get away with an affordable synthetic sofa, but invest in some good quality, large cushions with designer details such as a piped edge and you’ll end up transforming your bargain basement sofa into a head turning designer piece.
Often vintage furniture can be more affordable than antiques, but just as gorgeous. By spending time scouring flea markets, garage sales or auction houses, you could find a gem that looks like a rare, timeless piece with a big price tag, but for a fraction of the cost.
A common feature of expensive homes is the art that decorates the walls. The art itself doesn’t have to be extravagant, the trick is to hang it like you would see in a gallery – in multiple matching frames, or have one oversized artwork on a main wall.
It might sound strange, but elevating your furniture off the floor can give it that designer edge you are looking for. Add legs to the base of an ottoman or chest of drawers and it will instantly look more upmarket.
Splurge on expensive accessories
A real silver tray on an inexpensive coffee table can raise it up to a new level of sophistication. Similarly, a designer décor item such as a cashmere throw rug draped across an armchair will make the chair itself seem more glamorous and expensive.